I believe Twitter is one of the coolest inventions ever, and a great resource for writers. Recently I read Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone and really enjoyed it. The book chronicles a little bit about his history (working as an illustrator for a publisher, going to Google, then working on Blogger) and then gets into the meat of how Twitter started and grew. Stone is a wonderful storyteller, and seems genuine in his desire to have people connect. I think this is truly the key behind Twitter and what makes it successful.
Personally, I prefer Twitter to other social medium platforms because it’s an instant resource, you can converse without the “noise” that’s found on Facebook, and it fits in perfecting with blogging. When I hear other authors complain about the site, I have to wonder what makes my experience so different. I think it’s this: I use Twitter to help me connect to readers and not just talk at them. I think authors are too focused on “selling their books” and not on the social part of social media, which is showing your personality. While I do also tweet out links to my articles and books, I do a lot of conversing. I’m not on there to sell, that’s a byproduct for sure, but my goal is to be out there chatting about things going on, like TV shows, news, crafts (yes, I chat about that), and other things that interest me.
Stone’s book was fascinating because he isn’t a “techie dude” in the traditional sense. His role in Twitter was largely making it functional, looking at it from the user’s perspective, and being transparent with some of the early difficulties of the site. I appreciated his candor with things like Twitter’s constant “over capacity” warnings and some of the issues they faced in building the site and getting users on board.
As an author, I liked the discussions about creativity and human connection as well. This book wasn’t about a “cold” subject like technology without the human experience, it was about building a business and having a desire for that business and brand to do good in the world. I think authors can relate to this aspiration. Very often we write because we genuinely want to make a positive influence on the world, and this desire drives our decisions. Stone saw the potential in Twitter to do just that early on, and helped nurture it into the culturally important site it is today.
Personally, Twitter is my #1 non-search engine source of referrals. Globally, it’s helped people in remote or challenged parts of the world receive and tweet out news events. It’s expanded free speech and created a new way for us to search for and share information. I believe authors will be inspired from the book and look at the importance of Twitter in an entirely new way.
Cherie Burbach has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.